Technology with a Purpose

Archive for October, 2012

Customer Driven Innovation Fuels TargetSolutions’ Online Training and Records Management System

TargetSolutions has always listened to the recommendations of its clients. The reason is simple: You know your job better than we do. As a result, you know how our online training and records management system can help you the most.

“Our platform wouldn’t be what it is today if not for the feedback from clients,” said TargetSolutions’ Vice President of Operations Alex Day. “We have always listened to their ideas and worked to make our platform more functional for the people using it. We truly value the insight our clients have provided over the years because that is what has helped us create tools that help fire departments increase operational efficiencies and reduce costs.”

There is no greater example of TargetSolutions listening to its clients’ requests than the creation of the ISO Training Tracker, which was built with the help of Tim Riley and Guy Keirn of the Pinellas County Training Group. Riley and Keirn worked with TargetSolutions during the early stages of the tools development in 2010, and today the ISO Training Tracker is one of the most popular features inside the TargetSolutions platform.

“We’re extremely grateful to the Pinellas County Training Group for giving us great insight and helping us create a robust application,” Day said. “Our ISO Training Tracker helps departments automatically accumulate proper documentation for their next ISO audit. It makes the entire process easier.”

Riley, who now works with TargetSolutions as a product specialist and previously worked for the Dunedin Fire Department in Florida, was like most other training chiefs who have suffered multiple headaches preparing for an ISO audit. The simple fact is that if records are not collected properly, departments will not receive Class 1 status from ISO. But thanks to Riley, Keirn and other clients who offered advice, there is now a better way through TargetSolutions.

TargetSolutions provides access to customizable ISO training record template for training officers to deliver to employees. After that they can rest confidently knowing the industry’s most powerful records management system will automatically track completions and generate detailed reports, eliminating the hassle of searching through endless paper stacks and spreadsheets.

“This has really streamlined the process for ISO inspections,” Riley said. “In years past, you’d have to take all your records as best you could, pull everything out and pour through everything. But with the Training Tracker you can be proactive instead of reactive. You know the answers before ISO gets there. This keeps you from being blindsided by deficiencies in training records. It’s an incredible tool. It really makes peoples jobs easier.”

The ISO Training Tracker and ISO training record template are just the beginning. Credentials Manager in 2009 and the platforms major interface overhaul in 2011 were a few other monumental accomplishments fueled by the recommendations of clients. To continue receiving this type of feedback, TargetSolutions created a web-based Enhancement Request Form earlier this year so clients would have an efficient way to contact TargetSolutions and suggest improvements to the platform.

“Our tech team has traditionally heard about what we should do next from our account managers,” said TargetSolutions’ Product Manager Misty Pratt. “But the enhancement request form gives us a way to track requests and prioritize what projects should come next more effectively. Our goal has always been to constantly improve our platform. And what advice is better than that of clients who are using it every day?”

A recent success involved a request to allow e-mail notifications to be sent when courses are assigned. By July, this particular request jumped to the front of the line based on feedback received. TargetSolutions was able to build and release this feature in August. The month before, TargetSolutions released improved reporting functionality, based on the feedback from Jay Sumerlin of West Pierce Fire and Rescue in Washington.

Improved functionality of the home pages Bulletin Board, the File Center Upload Tool and the soon-to-be-released User Selector upgrades also came out of the Enhancement Request Form. At the end of the day, TargetSolutions is committed to providing the industry’s most useful applications that streamline training management and increase operational efficiency. We know that paying attention to our clients’ wishes is the best way to make that happen.

“Listening to our clients is our No. 1 priority,” said TargetSolutions’ Client Services Manager Kelly Zielinski. “We take what they say seriously and we are focused on building tools that they will benefit from in a timely fashion and then communicating the upgrades to our clients. What we hear from our clients is the best way for us to learn what we should build next.”

About TargetSolutions
Founded in 1999, TargetSolutions is the leader in online training and records management for public entities. More than 2,000 organizations across the country use our technology to solve their training needs. We work hard every day to understand our clients’ challenges and deliver powerful tools that save time and money.

User Selector Tool Undergoing Improvements

TargetSolutions knows your time is valuable. We are currently working on optimizing a key tool in the platform to make your experience even faster. The User Selector tool exists as part of many administrative tools including Create New Assignments, Record Completions and more. Not only are we upgrading the technology used to build the User Selector tool, but we are also improving the interface design to increase clarity and remove repetitive steps that can slow down your task.

The development team has similar optimization plans for other areas of the platform. When asked why the User Selector tool was the first to be completed, Software Engineer Manager Dustyn Borghi replied: “Almost everything our platform does has to do with user selection, so having the ability to find users and find them quickly is paramount to daily operations.”

Look for these improvements in the coming months.

 

 

How to Build Trust in the Work Environment

 The Uncompromising Truth
When everyone in the workplace knows it’s safe to treat others with the uncompromising truth, you have a shared value and trust is built.

Blog by Peter Dove
President of Shared Values Association

In the ancient days of the Greek city-state, a man was chosen to greet an approaching army and do his best to arrange for peace. This man was called a hero.

Rob Lebow dreamed of bringing peace to the work environment so he wrote a book: “A Journey into the Heroic Environment.” This book is based on the answers of 17.1 million workers from around the world in response to this question: “What does it take for you to be excited about doing your best at your job?”

Here are the answers Lebow found:

1. Treat others with the uncompromising truth

2. Lavish trust on your associates

3. Be receptive to new ideas regardless of their origin

4. Mentor unselfishly

5. Take personal risks for the organization’s sake

6. Give credit where credit is due

7. Do not touch dishonest dollars

8. Put the interests of others before our own

Nothing new, but common sense is not common practice. Your organization delivers these eight values now. The question is to what degree does your organization deliver these eight values? If you focus on being world class at delivering these specific values, you will have a sustainable, world-class organization that achieves world-class results.

See if this is confirmed in your own work experience. Have you ever had a boss that you did not like and didn’t respect? What was productivity like? I bet it was low. Conversely, have you ever worked for a boss you respected and honored? My guess is that workers cared more, trust was higher, and so was productivity.

Let’s take a real-life example of just one of these values: Treat others with the uncompromising truth. People deserve the truth and when they haven’t received it, they feel betrayed and disempowered. If people feel it is not safe to tell the uncompromising truth, they won’t.

  • Joe has body odor, always has and no one tells him. Joe needs the truth, instead others joke about him as they roll their eyes. Nobody tells Joe, does Joe know something’s up? Yes. Does this cost you anything when people don’t include Joe? Yes. Joe does his job but won’t go the extra mile and freely share information because he doesn’t feel like it and you will never know the cost.
  • Nancy is a gossip, loves to talk about other people. Nancy shares a juicy piece with Sue who is too polite to say anything though she feels uncomfortable. After all she has to work with Nancy all day every day. What’s that costing you? Plenty. Nancy is killing trust in the organization. Trust is everything. Low trust, low productivity — high trust, high productivity and joy as well. Trust is the foundation.
    When everyone in the organization knows it’s safe to treat others with the uncompromising truth, you have a shared value and trust is built.
  • Rita sees a memo and it has created some fear. She wants to tell you, her boss, the uncompromising truth but won’t for fear of what you might say or do. You’re about to make a decision, need the feedback and don’t get it. Results are only as good as the decisions. But Rita has to tell someone so she complains to her friend John and a rumor starts. Costly? Yes.

The solution to all of this: Make it OK within your group to tell the uncompromising truth.

Get your people together and make a ground rule, a contract, an agreement between all that it is safe to tell the truth. Agree on guidelines as to what telling the truth means. What is OK and what is not OK behavior.

When it’s agreed, you are on your way to a heroic environment. Over the years we have found these guidelines to be the most effective:

  1. Am I discussing the issue with the other person within 24 hours?
  2. Am I asking the other person for permission to communicate? Is this a good time to talk?
  3. Am I approaching the other person in a non-threatening way?
  4. Am I straight-talking without hurting the other person’s feelings? Is my language simple, understandable, non-apologizing and non-personal?
  5. Am I making a request of the other person and not a complaint? Is my request telling the other person how I would like it to be?

If you drive from your house to the grocery store with the emergency brake on, you can still get there, you just have to press harder on the gas pedal. You can still get results working in an organization that does not have a heroic environment, but it’s like driving it with the brake on.

The advice of this article is to focus on the eight values at every opportunity starting with the truth. Take the brake off, it will set you free.

About the Author
Peter Dove is president of Shared Values Associates (www.peterdove.com). He focuses on installing the Shared Values Process as well as management and leadership development training and assessments.

 

After Hearing From Clients, TargetSolutions Makes Improvements to File Upload Feature

TargetSolutions is dedicated to customer satisfaction and as a result we are continually releasing feature enhancements. In fact, the majority of our platform was built based on client feedback and enhancement requests. Our clients are welcome to request a new feature or improvement at any time.

We recently launched a series of new functionalities, including an improved file upload feature, based off the feedback from clients. The changes allow multiple files to be uploaded at once and then managed and updated from a single page. Our clients have quickly discovered the new feature to be convenient, user-friendly and efficient.

The File Center is a password-protected online location for managing organizational resources, including files, links and videos and it is now better than ever!

For questions about our File Center, contact us today at (800) 840-8048.

TargetSolutions Offers Content for Law Enforcement

At TargetSolutions, our company motto is to serve heroes every day, and we are happy to announce we have expanded our service to another vital branch of the public safety community: law enforcement. With dozens of course offerings that incorporate high-definition video and new interactive features, we are well equipped to deliver exceptional content for law enforcement officers. These new courses cover a variety of topics, including gang dynamics, defensive-driving strategies, active shooters and much more.

With the recent growth in our course catalogs, we remain committed to maintaining and creating relationships with accrediting organizations. This ensures the content for law enforcement we’re delivering is relevant and up to the latest standards in your region and for your profession. We will continue to increase our number of accredited courses for law enforcement, including recent approvals in Nevada and Oklahoma.

Please click here to find our course catalog for law enforcement.

 

Manage Credentials Tool: The Ultimate Way to Achieve Total Compliance

As an employer, you are responsible for ensuring that your employees are legally qualified to perform their job functions. To keep them safe and minimize your organization’s exposure, TargetSolutions has developed the Manage Credentials application.

With this easy-to-use tool, you can track the status of:

>> EMS certifications
>> Firefighter and police job qualifications
>> Compliance tasks
>> Drivers licenses and auto insurance
>> Virtually any type of data that includes a date or identification number

You can also use the Manage Credentials application to create, deliver and record organization-specific certifications that include:

>> TargetSolutions online training courses
>> Your organizations own courses and training materials
>> Other web-based assignments and tests

The Manage Credentials application gives you complete control over what certifications you create and what training components are necessary for the employee to fulfill. It also allows you to:

>> Define areas of training – and their corresponding training hours.

>> Categorize training (Medical, Fire Qualifications, OSHA Compliance, Certifications, etc.).
>> Send automated alerts to the credential holder and others in the organization.
>> Quickly see the status of all credentials, with the ability to easily filter data.

For more information on the Manage Credentials application, please check the Help section inside the platform or contact your TargetSolutions account manager at (800) 840-8048.

Upgrades to File Upload Tool in File Center Make Data Storage More Efficient with TargetSolutions

TargetSolutions clients can attest to the number of upgrades we have made to the file upload tool in the File Center over the years. And recently we did it once again. Using the newest, blazing fast technology, we have created a tool that allows multiple files to be uploaded at once and then managed and updated directly from the upload page. This screen shot below shows the new File Center’s enhanced interface.

Not only that, we have changed the way files are viewed during processing, making it easier to tell when files have been successfully uploaded.

File size restrictions have been removed, as has the session timer limits of the upload page. That means that you can upload a large file and there is no risk of being logged out due to inactivity. For more information about the new capabilities of the file upload tool, check out the File Center section of our Help System inside the platform.

Responding to Incidents Involving a Chevrolet Volt

Blog by Jason Emery
Electric Vehicle Safety Training

Let’s take a look at the first Extended Range Electric Vehicle (EREV) on the market, the Chevrolet Volt. It was first released in the fall of 2010 in select markets, and went nationwide in 2011.

From the exterior, the vehicle can be primarily identified by the Volt badging on the front fenders and on the lift-gate. Additionally, the door for the charging port is located on the driver’s side front fender underneath the Volt logo. The interior features digital display screens which also provide clues such as the battery state of charge indictor.

The Volt is constructed of nearly 80 percent high and ultra-high strength steel with the vehicle essentially built around the 6-foot, 400-pound, liquid-cooled, 360-volt lithium ion battery that runs down the center of the vehicle and under the rear seats. In addition to the high voltage battery, there is an engine generator under the hood that is designed to generate electricity to power the drive motors when the battery becomes depleted. The average range on the fully charged battery is 35 to 50 miles with an additional 344 miles provided by the engine generator running off the 9.3 gallon gasoline supply. The Volt battery can be recharged using a level I or II charging station.

Since this vehicle has both a high voltage electrical system as well as a gasoline powered generator onboard, first responders should treat this vehicle as you would a hybrid and be sure to control both energy sources.

Fire Engineering Magazine recently published an article with participation by members of our Electric Vehicle Safety training staff that provides an overview of the Chevy Volt, its systems, and emergency response procedures. The piece features relevant and useful information about key characteristics to identify a Volt; the vehicles construction, including the electrical system, high-voltage battery and occupant protection systems; and a step-by-step guide for responders.

It also emphasizes that first responders must ensure they understand the technology and operation behind EVs and HEVs to ensure overall safety for all parties involved.

As part of NFPAs mission to provide the latest information regarding electric vehicles to first responders, we would like to highlight key details noted in this article regarding the appropriate electric vehicle safety training response procedure for a Chevy Volt. Similar information can be found on our websites vehicle manufacturer resource page and will be included in our soon to be released Electric Vehicle Emergency Field Guide.

>> Identifying the types of vehicles in a crash is essential. It is more critical than ever for responders to identify the types of vehicles involved in a crash. As green technology and alternative fueled vehicles become more popular, responders should not immediately, always assume that they are working with conventional vehicles at a crash scene.

>> Securing vehicle from potential movement should be priority. Responders should control potential hazards by chocking the wheels, accessing the passenger compartment to set the parking brake, placing the vehicle in park, and shutting down the high voltage system. Specifically, in the case of a Volt follow this two-step process:

>> Shut the vehicle down by pressing the power button (found just above the gear selector).If possible then remove the proximity keys from the vehicle. Then, disable the 12v electrical system by using the special cut location provided in the rear of the vehicle. In the rear hatchback, an access panel is found on the driver’s sidewall of the cargo area. This access panel displays a logo of a firefighter’s helmet to indicate its purpose. Behind the access panel is a bundle of wires in a black wrap with GM’s “first responder yellow cut tape” attached to it. Make two cuts, one on either side of the yellow cut tape.

>> Extrication operations: Although high voltage cabling and components are not generally found in typical cut points, it is important to inspect the area that is being cut to confirm this. During extrication, it is also important for responders to keep in mind that the Volt is comprised of approximately 80 percent high-strength steel. In order to respond effectively, responders should be aware of their rescue tools’ ability to cut through these materials. Also noted in the article are back-up methods for responders in the case their tools are not capable of cutting high-strength steels.

>> Vehicle fires and submersions. Traditional firefighting equipment is acceptable to extinguish a Volt that is on fire and water application does not create a shock hazard. In addition, responders can safely operate around a submerged Volt in the same manner as a conventional vehicle or a hybrid.

Crashes Involving the Chevy Volt
In light of the negative publicity, electric vehicles have received recently regarding their involvement with fires; it is interesting to note the outcome of a recent crash in upstate New York.

In May in Geneseo, N.Y., a Toyota Camry traveling at a high rate of speed struck a Chevrolet Volt and another vehicle parked in a driveway. The damage to the Volt was extensive, especially on the driver’s side. The Camry, a conventional vehicle, caught fire as a result of the crash and was extinguished by an off-duty police officer prior to the Fire Departments arrival. The Volt, however, did not experience a crash-related fire.

This incident is a reminder to first responders that all vehicles come with potential hazards that must be addressed. It is also important to note that the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration (NHSTA) does not believe that electric vehicles present any greater risk of fire than conventional ones. As for a response to a severe crash such as this involving and electric or hybrid vehicles, there are some procedures to follow. NHSTA, with assistance from the NFPA, has developed guidelines to deal with damaged vehicles equipped with lithium-ion batteries. Responders should familiarize themselves with these guidelines and be prepared to pass them along to other personnel, such as the wrecker operators involved in the scene.

>> Blog content is from the NFPAs Electric Vehicle Safety Training website. For more information on hybrid and electric vehicles visit http://www.evsafetytraining.org/. For a more in-depth look at this vehicle and its emergency response procedures, please be sure to take the NFPA/GM Volt safety training course.

About the Author
Jason Emery, a 21-year veteran of the fire service, is a lieutenant with the Waterbury (CT) Fire Department, where he is assigned to the rescue/hazmat company. He has a BS in fire science from the University of New Haven and is a member of the International Society of Fire Service Instructors. He is a subject matter expert for the National Fire Protection Association, a member of its development team, and the lead instructor for its Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Training program. He founded Emergency Training Solutions, designed the PowerPoint materials for Fire Engineering’s Handbook for Firefighter I & II, and is a contributing author to the 2nd edition of the Handbook.

TargetSolutions’ Upgraded Help Section Provides Valuable Resources for Admins, Users

Have you visited our upgraded Help section lately? TargetSolutions’ comprehensive Help section is a great tool for supplemental training and tutorials on how to operate the platform. We have focused on making the Help section user-friendly, providing you with detailed step-by-step instructions and video tutorials on all of the applications available in the site.

It is our mission to provide valuable support to all of our clients. We want your experience with TargetSolutions to be a successful one. We encourage you to explore the upgraded Help section and see for yourself! To get started, please click on the Help tab inside your organization’s customized TargetSolutions site. A new window featuring the Help section will open (pictured below).

Browse Home Page Support is targeted toward standard users while Browse Administrator Support provides administrators with FAQs on commonly asked questions and step-by-step tutorials about operating the applications within the site. Watch Video Tutorials provides you with video tutorials on all of the applications. There is also a Live Help section that enables users and admins to chat with a TargetSolutions support team member. This feature is available Monday to Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (PST) and on Fridays from 8 a.m. to noon (PST).

For more information on any of these tools, please feel free to contact TargetSolutions toll-free at (800) 840-8048.

The Policy-Behavior Disconnect in the Fire Service

Blog by Dr. Richard B. Gasaway
Retired Fire Chief and Web Master for Situational Awareness Matters

I often poll program attendees about the need to complete a 360-degree size-up. While the responses are mixed as to how many have policies and how many don’t, those with policies that require a 360-degree size-up often admit that first-arriving companies often do not do them.

This prompts me to ask why. Why would a first arriving company fail to comply with departmental policy and not complete a 360-degree size-up? There may be many explanations. Among them is a philosophical disagreement with the policy leading to a conscious decision for non-compliance. Another explanation may be a failure to see the importance of completing a size-up.

Yet another explanation may be there is a policy-behavior disconnect. The policy says, the first arriving company shall do a 360-degree size-up on structure fires.

That’s pretty clear.

However, in training (at the fire station, at the burn tower and/or in acquired structures) many firefighters are not required to complete a 360-degree size-up prior to entry. I’m not talking about the pre-burn walk-around required by the NFPA 1403 standard. I’m talking about making the fire crews walk around the structure as the first step in every evolution. This creates a habit that will become the automatic performance under stress.

Your muscles don’t learn from verbal instructions. Your muscles learn from muscle movement. You can read all day long about what you’re supposed to do and how you’re supposed to do it. But you’re not really learning until you move your body and do it.

A 360-degree size-up is a situational awareness best practice that should be performed at every structure fire, sans physical limitation based on structure size, access and obstructions. If you want your policy and behavior to align, train by physical movement of the body in ways that are consistent with your policies.

About the Author
Dr. Richard Gasaway is widely considered to be one of the nation’s leading authorities on situational awareness and decision making processes used by first responders. In addition to his 30-plus years in the fire service, including 22 years as a fire chief, Dr. Gasaway has a second passion: Uncovering and applying research in brain science for the benefit of first responders. His website, Situational Awareness Matters (www.SAMatters.com) has enjoyed over a million visits since its launch in October 2011. He can be reached via e-mail at support@RichGasaway.com.